No. 1 vs. No. 2…UA & Oregon baseball collide in Tucson

Could this weekend’s baseball series between Arizona and Oregon be any more ready for prime time?  Seriously, dude.

The University of Oregon is in first place in the Pac-12, but Arizona is just a half-game behind – with a chance to take over the top spot in a three-game home series at Hi Corbett field that begins tonight.

Oregon is nationally-ranked at No. 10.  The Wildcats are sitting at No. 11.

Both have exactly 13 losses.  The Ducks are 32-13; the Cats are 29-13.

The Ducks’ pitching leads the Pac-12 in earned-run average with a collective 3.01 ERA.  The Cats’ hitters lead the Pac-12 with a team batting average of .336.

That .336 batting average, by the way, also ranks as the third-best in the country.  Seth Mejias, the junior infielder from Cienega High School in Tucson, leads the Pac-12 with a .391 average.  And senior teammate Bobby Brown leads the conference with six triples and has hit safely in 18 of the last 19 games.

And, finally, each team is trying to climb over the other to work its way back up in the national standings.  Arizona was No. 2 in the pre-season rankings and Oregon entered the season at No. 7.  A series win here would be a big boost up the ladder for either team.

Hey, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

Arizona’s athletic director, Greg Byrne, pointed out in his weekly newsletter that the Wildcats are leading the teams in the West in attendance.  This week, those fans can count on getting their money’s worth.

Oregon will roll into Tucson on a five-game winning streak and a big win over Gonzaga on Wednesday.  The Ducks collected 10 hits in their 8-7 victory and swept the doubleheader in Washington.

Arizona has recovered from a three-game skid that included a 12-8 loss to rival Arizona State on April 17 in Tempe.  But since then, they have won five out of the last six games, including a three-game sweep of East Tennessee last week.

But this game is in the pitcher-friendly Hi Corbett, a spacious major-league facility that Arizona began using this year as their new home field.  So the stage has been set for the likely starters, Alex Keudel for Oregon and Kurt Heyer for Arizona.  Heyer’s eight wins this season has him tied for fifth-most in the country.

This one may come down to who can punch out the base hits and grab an extra base or two – the squads have a combined 116 stolen bases so far this season.

And when it comes to extra-base hits, the Cats are just one shy of conference-leading Stanford and Arizona State.  They’ve collected 131 so far.

So it should be a run-and-gun trio of games that will be all-business for the players – and a treat for the fans.

(Photo: University of Oregon Athletics)